The 21st century world offers a complex lifestyle model devoid of godliness and pervasively secularistic, materialistic and individualistic in nature. The prevailing lifestyle perspective is limited to focusing only the secular outcomes. This perspective is expressed throughout people’s lives: work and leisure activities, attitudes, interests, opinions, values about income, allocation of income, self-image, motivations, needs, and wants.
Many, including some Adventists, acquire this secular perspective of lifestyle and its practice in their homes and lives. Children raised in such homes often experience a culture shock as students in Adventist educational institutions, particularly as students in boarding schools. Administrators and educators in Adventist boarding institutions often experience difficulties in determining which aspects to emphasize while orienting students to the peculiar Adventist lifestyle in order to support the students and to uphold the Church’s unique educational ethos. This holistic Adventist lifestyle includes spiritual, moral and health standards and elements such as spiritual growth through worship, vegetarianism, drug free living, physical exercise, and temperance in eating, drinking, working and dressing.
In my study of this topic, I have become impressed that there are 6 essential aspects of the belief, worship, and lifestyle of Adventism to which students must be explicitly introduced. Students should understand that:
- God calls young people to His schools for training and preparation for service (Jeremiah 1:5). Students should be encouraged to make this an important point of reference for their life and study.
- Seventh-day Adventists embrace the literal seventh-day Sabbath in the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11). Students should be encouraged to choose the blessings of Isaiah 58:13-14 as theirs from faithful Sabbath-keeping during their study.
- Seventh-day Adventists believe in the literal second coming of Jesus Christ (John 14:3). All worship programs on campus are held in preparation for that day. Students are encouraged to participate in worships in preparation to meet Jesus.
- God made us (Genesis 1:26-27) and redeemed us (1 Corinthians 6:20), so our bodies are dedicated to him (Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:19). Because of this, we make minimal use of animal flesh, alcohol, and stimulants in our diets, including offering predominantly vegetarian meals in the University cafeteria.
- Holistic personal and professional character development is important. When appropriate, students should be encouraged to hold jobs on campus to foster this development.
- Prayer and study of the Bible are useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instructions for right living (2 Timothy 3:16); and empowering honorable thoughts and virtues (Philippians 4:8).
Students from diverse backgrounds attend Adventist educational institutions around the world. Lack of familiarity with the Adventist lifestyle can cause problems for students and for the schools they attend. It is imperative that Adventist administrators and educators orient new students to the Adventist lifestyle and communicate consistently with their students about the benefits of the Adventist lifestyle for their spirituality, morals, health, and academic outcomes.